“Honour all men” (1 Peter 2:17)
God calls us to honor all men. He Himself has given us the highest example of respecting others, even in the face of disrespect.
Respect involves a recognition of the rights of others. We may affirm another’s right to do or say something while not believing what they say or do is right. Until we are willing to recognize the rights of others, our own claim to rights is questionable.
There are three rights which we must allow others to have in relation to ourselves.
1.) The RIGHT to a CONTRARY WILL
An oppressor does not permit others to have a will opposed to their own. Others must do what they want them to do.
God is worthy to receive power, but He gives men the right to refuse His control over their lives. The mass of mankind says to the Lord, “We will not have You rule over us!”
Yes, the Lord will eventually put down all rule opposed to His own; but this is the day of His patience and long-suffering in which He does not override the will of any. Those who submit to Him do so willingly.
2.) The RIGHT to PRIVACY
We may have a deep desire to know someone, but another has the right to share with us only what they wish.
It may indeed be to another’s detriment that they hide themselves; but to pry into another’s business; to demand disclosure; or to “uncover their nakedness,” against their will, is a violation of their dignity.
God knows the thoughts of every heart, but He allows men to remove their hearts from Him. His involvement in their thoughts are according to their permission. He can be in all, some, are none of their thoughts, depending upon how much access they give Him.
3.) The RIGHT of REJECTION
We would be loved. We would be loved more deeply by those who already love us. We want to be appreciated and praised for the things we see in ourselves that are commendable. When we are not given the honor we believe we deserve we feel rejected, unloved, and unwanted.
Rejection hurts. But do others have the right to find us unattractive? Do they have the right to choose another instead of us? Can they like certain things about us, but not other things; or must they face our wrath if in any way they despise or reject us?
No one is more deserving of honor and praise than God, but He is not liked and not chosen by the vast bulk of mankind. The proof of that is their despising and rejection of His Son. The day will come when those who refuse to “kiss the Son” will perish; but today is the day of God’s long-suffering in which He is unwilling for any to perish. He patiently bears the despising and rejection of men in the hope that His goodness toward them will lead them to repentance.
God deserves our utmost respect, all the more so because of His patient response toward us in the face of our failure to give Him the power, honor, and glory He deserves. May we learn from Him how to gain greater respect from those around us by showing them greater respect.